No creativity points today, I’m afraid, but hey, he’s a villain. Even if you’ve never read the Harry Potter series, I’m sure you’ve heard of J.K. Rowling’s Voldemort, and now we’re going to have a little talk about what makes him work… or not.
Tom Riddle, a Slytherin half-blood, rejected his muggle father’s blood at a young age and never looked back. Chief among his beliefs was the need for a purge, returning to a purer age where wizarding families were untainted by muggle blood. In the eighties, he was successful at gaining followers in his movement, known as “Death Eaters,” but was reduced to almost nothing when a muggle-born woman sacrificed herself for her son. Riddle, now using the name “Voldemort,” spent the next two decades working to destroy the same boy, Harry Potter, but was eventually overpowered by the forces of love.
Classification :: A128!#@
Role :: Alpha (villainous and idealistic leader)
Motivation :: evil (consciously inflicting hate), idealism (seeking a better wizarding world), power/influence (gaining the authority to cast out muggle-borns, etc.)
Bonus :: Superpower (magic), minions (Death Eaters), name (Voldemort)
evil incarnate—Voldemort represents everything that goes against love; he seeks his own goals only and feels no remorse as long as he gets what he wants.
historical reference—Voldemort resembles Adolf Hitler, sort of, with his ideas of creating a better “race” and enslaving those he considers “less;” he is also not of the “race” he intends to elevate.
striking appearance—book and movie, Voldemort has a characteristic façade with which none can compare.
symbolic reference—he doesn’t have a nose, like a snake, and gee, have I read about another snake in the Bible who contributed to the fall of Man?
few redeeming features—we’re not supposed to pity Voldemort.
strong—he’s strong in mind, body, and magic, which means that he is an exceptionally formidable opponent for a child like Harry.
smart—he was a brilliant student, inquisitive, Head Boy; he knew how to tickle a textbook and the teachers besides.
good speaker—one of Ralph Fiennes’ great contributions was lending Voldemort a voice; he’s evil, but enticing.
semi- sympathetic ideals—it’s not that we want everyone else dead, but for a group of people accustomed to hiding themselves and being different, turning the tables on the rest of the world is piquing.
immortality plan—Voldemort splits his soul into eight or nine pieces, eventually, making him almost impossible to kill.
shadow—by keeping himself hidden, Voldemort gave himself time to regroup and even made Harry appear crazy; he knew his game was best played when no one believed he existed.
fearsome—people are afraid to talk about this person out loud: his memory alone still frightens people.
dangerous—as much as he might “hate to do it,” Voldemort will kill whoever he must to make a point and to get where he wants to go.
classy-ish—one of the definite points that marks him out as an Alpha is his sense of propriety. He insists Harry bow during their duel in the fourth book, for example, and holds Hogwarts school in high regard.
memorable—hang out on the Internet for a while: you’ll find him.
- not all Alphas are awesome—as you’ll later find out, I have a romantic interpretation of Alphas, but the fact is that a category can be filled by any number of personalities
- fear doesn’t equate respect—more often than not, we spend a lot of time making fun of Voldemort; he’s scary, but he’s not the kind of villain we’ll dislike but somehow respect
- smart villains are terrifying—the thing about Voldemort was that he had the skill and the problem-solving skills to really threaten the wizarding community as a whole: he knew what he was doing, which means that up until the very end there wasn’t a mistake Harry could capitalize on, and our hero had to truly sacrifice himself
- anything can happen with a good leader—in general, we don’t like the idea of mass murder or genocide, but this guy was able to orchestrate it so that there was only a small resistance to his heinous, seriously-evil-in-a-bad-way crimes
I’m not Voldemort’s biggest fan, but at least he admits when he screws up: “I miscalculated, my friends, I admit it. My curse was deflected by the woman's foolish sacrifice, and it rebounded upon myself. Aaah ... pain beyond pain, my friends; nothing could have prepared me for it. I was ripped from my body, I was less than spirit, less than the meanest ghost ... but still, I was alive. What I was, even I do not know ... I, who have gone further than anybody along the path that leads to immortality. You know my goal – to conquer death. And now, I was tested, and it appeared that one or more of my experiments worked ... for I had not been killed, though the curse should have done it. Nevertheless, I was as powerless as the weakest creature alive...”
What do you think about Voldemort? Have you ever written or read about another character of pure evil? How does s/he compare?